Comments in detail

Comments received on each of the problems/challenges

Pace of play               1.72

“This is probably the most important problem to solve, but it is so close linked with all the other questions, course design, format of play, how many clubs you carry, golf buggies instead of walking/carrying etc....”

“Really important and you can grow this section I have no doubt. I would say you are missing the point though, if I have time for 3.5 hours then I probably have time for 5 too, albeit less enjoyable it may be.
The critical social issue here is that the younger generation consider 1 -2 hours maximum for any activity. And even those I work with who love the game including me only have 1 - 2 hours to spare if I am working.
Your campaign should perhaps get behind specific initiatives here; 6 Hole Golf is coming, perhaps with the impact 20/20 had on participation in cricket amongst the young.”

 “When was the last time the group in front called you through??? It is like a new rule do not let anyone play through.”

Etiquette                    1.60

“Etiquette is an antiquated term. We need to either embrace the way people have changed with phones and technology or be buried with telephone land lines. Somehow we have to make our approach to golf contemporary. Unfortunately, there is no way to turn back the clock.”

“As in all social relationships people just need to know how to behave - whether we call it etiquette or code of conduct. More discipline is required if we all are to enjoy our time on the course and in the club.”

“This is a difficult question, if more and more new golfers will be non-members of a club, they will not have easy access to mentorship. The best way to learn the rules and etiquette of golf is to play with "older" members.”

“Might be complicated to explain and to maintain Etiquette in a world of individualization, men and women working, lack of time, out of money from losing jobs. The trend: "Me first and me only" is hard to deny.”

 “I assume dress standard is here too, these need to be relaxed, not a lot but some.” 

Recruitment              1.52

“Of course the future is in the hands of the young, and much of the game is run by the over 60's. It is important to get support for your initiative from some of the young successful players, so that the 'cool' way to play is seen as being through the making of shots rather than hitting the skin off the ball.”

“Obviously this is vital if the sport should start growing again, but we need to have a discussion whether growth in the number of active players actually is the objective. One might postulate that if golf again became more "available" and less expensive, and something that you can take up one day and stop the following day because you have not invested time in trying learning the rules and money in memberships and equipment, the loyalty towards the game may suffer even more than today. This will make investments (even smaller than today) in new facilities more risky. I think there is an upper limit to the number of real loyal golfers opposed to the much larger potential of people who might want to play, but who will never become GOLFERS. We must also ask ourselves if golf even may lose its attractiveness if it becomes too available. There are surely huge differences between countries. On the British Isles the game has been much more common for many years, and in contrast to the majority of other European countries played across more socioeconomic classes.”

 “FAMILY GOLF is essential for the game - we have to get groups of Mums and Dads as young as possible on the course. Their kids will then find their way as well.”

 “I believe we should focus on making the game as attractive as possible for those already playing. Thereafter new players will come naturally. The number of people playing golf is in itself not too much of a concern to me. It is however important that we can attract the younger generation.”

Length of round        1.52

“Length of round = Pace of play.”

“5 hour rounds are not fun. Again this issue needs addressing urgently if we are to attract more golfers who have less leisure time on their hands today.”

“Closely linked with pace of play. For players with family responsibilities this is a major issue and militates against them playing regularly or to take up membership. This issue must be addressed by club authorities.”

 “It takes far too long because the courses are far too long.”

“A number of the above issues contribute such as Design, Set up, Etiquette, Rules etc.”

“I myself, more and more play 9 holes rounds or if possible 12 holes rounds with my wife and friends.”

Course design           1.32

“We really do need to return to the type of course that is easy to play for the majority of golfers and also easier to maintain.”

“Architects have reacted (negatively) to technology, making golf courses too difficult for most. Further, the Slope System is now used as a marketing tool, something for which it was never intended.”

“The recreational golfer does not need to play the top courses. The more relevant point is the meddling of clubs in alterations without proper advice. This can have a detrimental effect on playability.”

“Skip the dozens of bunkers and ponds, which are cheap to create, but costly to maintain - make the course intelligent! Cost of upkeep should be the most important part of a designer's mission.”

“Course design has been dictated by the evolution (distance) of the ball.”

“Courses are getting too long. A good course used to be one that gave pleasure to an average golfer and was challenging to pros and advanced players. Nowadays, if you don't drive over 200 m, you have not much fun sometimes.”

“Does your concept have an international focus? In China matchplay for high stakes per hole is driving design. Heroic design is required to make it fun to play, so who are you intending golf to be fun for? No I do not think you are taking into account the different cultures where golf is being played.”

Course set-up            1.32

“The strongest part of your site I feel. Course condition is poorly understood even in the developed world of golf, UK/US, God hope us in the developing markets. Your contribution here could be really important.”

“We need to ensure that people play the correct tees for their ability, and to make sure that there is not as much difficulty in the way for higher handicapped players.”

“A golf course should be set up for every category of player and not just single figure players. With 90% of members usually playing of middle to high handicaps this should be reflected in how a course be set up for daily play.”

“I believe that the never ending demand for faster and more undulated greens is the main issue and problem.”

“Pin placement need to be fair, most important.”

“Demands for fast greens, overwatering, limited choices for shots due to management of green surrounds.”

The ball                     1.16

“I enjoy your "links" and the articles highlight some great thinking, such as Ping´s solution. The ball needs to be bought back for the Tour Pro´s for the rest of us the game is challenging enough. Your section here covers the issues well.”

“I don't think the ball goes too far for amateurs. However, it does for the pro golfers and as a result, courses are becoming longer.”

“The ball has not changed significantly over the last 10 years. We need to stay at this level and a standard (less explosive) ball should be introduced for elite/pro tournaments.”

“For the Professional the compression needs reducing. The recreational golfer needs all the help he/she can get.”

“Club golfers have generally been happy to obtain more distance or control of the ball in recent years despite the inevitable increase in price. The increases have however been modest in most cases. I do not see the ball as a major part of the overall problem for recreational golf. For championship/professional golf there is an argument for limiting the distance/spin of the ball.”

 “For the REAL golfer, this ship has sailed. Nothing will change. Too much money and power behind the golf ball companies.”

“It goes too far, hence the need to lengthen or build longer courses, this cost is then passed onto the golfer/member.”

Rules              1.16

“If the Course setup is easier, shorter, less bunkers, water hazards, friendly rough I Think the basic rules of golf still is good enough.”

“For sure, the rules are very complicated and very few players know them well. I don't think the rules keep people away from playing golf, and they are not the reason for people stopping. They just play by their own. The rules can be much more simple, but I'm afraid that the likelihood of players following new rules is not great. We have passed the point where every player acts like a gentleman and his/hers own judge.”

“Rules should not be a hobby of some, but understandable to most.”

“Far too complicated and detailed for recreation.87 amendments in the decisions for next year. Only required for Elite/Proffessional. Should be a basic version that all can learn off by heart.”

“I do not see that the rules in general have a negative impact on the pleasure of a round of golf. People do not know all the rules - but most of the time they know enough.”

 “Rules are an afterthought for many golfers. Doesn’t inhibit.”

Green fees                 1.12

“The game of golf is great because it provides such diversity. Not sure you are serving the game by questioning the right of developers to generate revenues. Perhaps this section should be incorporated into "Facility Development" where examples of access and affordability are celebrated but the focus is on specific cases. As a subject it’s too broad.”

“The market will take care of this. Some courses are so great and attractive that they can charge high fees.”

“The market will decide. Generally, though, fees are too high for most.”

“I know guys who have essentially given up the game because greens fees are too expensive. They can't justify the expense to themselves and they can't justify the expense to their wives. A round of golf on a weekend at a decent golf course is $40. If you play poorly / don't have fun, you could save yourself 5 hours if you just flushed the $40 down the toilet. Then at least you would have the 5 hours to do something else.”

Gender                       1.08

“It is getting more difficult for women to balance a career, a home and a family. I think we will see fewer women in the 30 to 55 age range in the future.”

“Most clubs are now fully conversant with need to be inclusive. Those clubs with exclusions for either men or women will have to change or be forced to change in the next few years especially those who wish to host major championships.”

“Not an issue where I come from (Denmark). But in principle I believe that it is the nature of a Club to decide who you want as your fellow members - also in case you want a Club for ladies only.”

“There is place on golf courses for everybody. Private clubs may have their own policies towards members and their gender.”

“I wouldn't position it as Gender, this comes off poorly. I know adding women is important, and making them feel comfortable. But, I would position it as making golf a family activity. If the moms are out on the golf course, the kids will be sure to follow.”

“As a woman golfer I find your comments a little patronising - there should be an emphasis on more golfers of any gender though I appreciate some positive discrimination may be needed to get to this stage.”

Handicapping            1.04

 “We must have uniform international handicapping rules. Handicapping is a core and unique feature in golf compared to other sports. The system allows us to compete on equal term across gender, age, golf clubs and countries. There should be no risk of different standards.”

“The system needs an overhaul.”

“This is also an area which is being addressed by the powers that be. It looks as though there will be a worldwide system of handicapping and course rating in the next few years. Currently it takes too long for handicaps to rise and it is difficult to reduce handicaps quickly. There is now a mandatory yearly review but too many golfers are unhappy with the current system.

“The system has become too bureaucratic and complex, but in practice most players are reasonably relaxed.”

 “Here in OZ the new handicapping system is a joke, if you play on single figures forget about winning a net event, we have just put up the stats for this year, 2 events were won by single handicap players.”

Format for play         0.80

“Not a big issue for most club golfers as they tend to play either match play or stableford on most occasions. With the latter being qualifying in some cases a good number of older players do not feel the need to play in medals. However there are too many, mainly seniors, who have an "I" by their name although a change to this scheme may be imminent.”

“I agree that more matchplay should be played - mainly to speed of the game.”

“I think formats are for golfers to decide in recreational golf. Competitions are governed by separate rules, which don't need, in my opinion, any serious adjustments.”

“I wish more Americans played match play. It would speed up play tremendously. For some reason, we are conditioned to play stroke play. Strangers that I play with are ALWAYS playing stroke. It is unfortunate.”

“Four and three balls are the norm in NZ, which works well.”

The clubs                   0.68

I can´t understand your apparent hostility towards the part of the industry that actually generates revenues. The aspirational class wants to spend their money, they have choice, and who should criticize the buyer? If I want to introduce someone to the game my local Pro Shop in St Andrews can get someone started for around $150. Good quality merchandise, that sits next to the high range. Issues such as this are not holding the game back.”

“I find this a significant obstacle for growing the game with juniors. You can buy a ball for team sports for $25. You can't start a kid in golf for less than $100 (not counting greens fees). And as they grow, you have to buy clubs every other year. With adults, there is the perception that you have to keep buying new clubs to get better / "keep up with the Joneses". I know a guy who spent more money on his driver this year than he did on greens fees. He thought buying a driver was the solution to being better / having fun. It wasn't and he hardly played.”

I think there´s a lot more to discuss here, from the shaft to the blade, how many clubs should we carry in REAL golf? I think 7-8 clubs are enough for many.”

“As with the ball, no further increase in carry should be allowed.”

“Present club designs are fine a great help to recreational golfers.”

”I hit the ball further and straighter than 30 years ago, great for my ego but not makes some great traditional courses play very short.”

“The problem is the ball. Club design issues are both good (rescue clubs good for the game) and bad (trampolines for non-drivers).”

What have we missed?

“You recommended fewer tees. I think at least on older and links courses there should be more tees, in Sweden we have quite a few courses with the hectometer system, which  has become more and more popular.”

“Sustainable management of golf courses.”

“You have covered most things in great detail anything more would just turn people off. I will be most interested to see the slimmed down version. However I would like to compliment all concerned for an excellent document which goes a long way in setting the case for Real Golf.”

“The website covers the main challenges to golf and golfers. Some are being addressed but the biggest challenge is to change the views of all the  people involved, a huge and difficult task.”

“I think you have covered a lot of aspects - maybe too many. The pace of play and length of a round of golf are the main issues and I believe the issue may be slightly confused by not just concentrating the focus on these.”

“Golfers need to send a clear message that ball and club technology should be the servants not the masters of the game - and sales will go up as a result. I wish you well in this.”

Is there anything else you want to tell us?

“There is much wisdom within the website, much for others to read and consider, and there is well meaning intent.

Maybe the tone is a little critical. You decry greenkeepers with poa annua, manufacturers, designers, players, even the investors that do develop and invest in golf facilities (All are simply meeting the market demands made of them.

Traditional UK/US Clubs will stick to their old ways, for good or bad. If Real Golf is intending to have an impact on golf development, and is at all concerned with the number of lives affected by golf, in a positive way, then you cannot ignore the cultural norms that drive the game globally, or the factors that make the game attractive. European financial models simply do not apply.

South America to come next, and like Asia it will be a game for the “aspirational classes”, requiring many elements that you are arguing against. Designs will need to be heroic, equipment trendy, clubhouses unique, technology smart, conditions excellent for sure, and memberships “exclusive” .

Your view on golf is extremely important, if not essential reading, particularly for the young. Some things should be constant, such as proper course condition, and defining this should be your key message, Therefore Real Golf I hope goes from strength to strength and gathers the supporters it needs. Please do not think my comments are negative, I just recognize another side to golf now, one which improves many livelihoods and communities.”

“I would be happy also to discuss and propose solutions but understand that now is not the time for that. I like the initiative you have taken and agree that there is need for something to be done for the player WHO want to play a fast, fun and not too expensive round of golf. I wish you the best of luck with the REAL golf project.”

”I would change the writing style for the web - shorter pages, more headings, break up the content liberally. I know there is a lot of info to convey, but I don't believe people will stay on the site long enough to read all of your valuable information! The pages need more structure and editing. The important points don't jump off the page. I would use headings so that someone can get your main points without reading every word. It feels like the content is written more like a book than web content.

Besides that, I applaud your commitment to the massive task you have taken on and the great care you have expressed for the game. Congratulations on a great beta site. WELL DONE.”

“Clearly a lot of thought and effort has gone into this preliminary document and it is a very thorough work done by enthusiastic and very knowledgeable golfers who share a view of golf. Congratulations!....BUT....

I think if the campaign is to be effective when it goes to a wider audience it needs to concentrate on fewer initiatives and dare I say show some greater acknowledgement of the good developments in golf in recent years- as it stands it will go down well with the existing "converted" thoughtful golfer but may alienate those who are naturally against change in any way. If you want to get support from a new audience I feel this should be acknowledged.

My experience is that golfers are quite selfish and they don’t really care about other golfers as long as they can play in the way they want! If they are doing this already then they will be disinterested in change.

If you can get the golf equipment industry to take some initiative and recognise that golf should be fun and does not require state of the art kit- just practise!- to be so -that would be a start. This is unlikely to happen I know when they can and do make such good profit from selling golfers stuff that is never going to make them as good as their heros in the professional game.
You have used Jack Nicklaus and other golfers of a certain age to show the need for reform- can you get any of the current stars to endorse this initiative- this may appeal more to the younger golfers?

good luck!”

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Time for action! Jan 27, 2016
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